How to protect yourself from holiday rental scams

Author: jayzep  |  Category: Travel Tips

The emergence of the internet is great for holidaymakers, you can now search for the perfect holiday in your own time and find the cheapest deals, but booking a holiday online can leave you vulnerable to scams and bogus websites.

This is especially true when looking for holiday villas and apartment lets, so here are some tips to help protect you when you’re booking your dream holiday.

How to check that the holiday villa or apartment is genuine

•    Check how long the villa or apartment has been registered with your chosen website, the longer the better. If it has only been on there for a short time then ask for the owners details so that you can contact them directly.
•    Contact the owner and ask them about the villa/apartment, the location, local attractions etc. A genuine rental owner will be happy to oblige.
•    Look for trusted or verified reviews online to see what other people thought of the rental.
•    Search for the property on Google maps, does it match the pictures on the rental website?
•    If the rental owner has their own website, do a whois lookup; this shows you the details of the website, is the owners name the same?

Protecting your payments

Protecting your payments is crucial to getting your money back if something bad should happen, but the level of protection will vary depending on what payment method you use.

•    Electronic transfers and cheques are the preferred method of payment for rental owners, but offer little protection to the holidaymaker in cases of fraud. Instead ask the owner if they will accept an alternative payment method.
•    Paying using a credit card is the safest way to protect yourself against fraud. Most banks protect payments of £100 or above and most genuine travel agencies should offer this facility.
•    Some owners may let you pay via Paypal; this allows you to pay using your credit card and is covered by Paypal for up to 45 days after payment against fraud. This should give you enough time to make a claim if something is wrong.
•    Most holiday payment procedures take a 25% deposit with the full balance to be paid 6-8 weeks before departure. This is standard procedure so be wary if full payment is requested up front.
•    Some owners who live near to the rental may offer a cash on collection of the keys, although this is a risk on the part of the owner due to no-shows.

The best way of protecting yourself is by using a registered website that has ATOL or ABTA protection; this will protect you against any unforeseen circumstances including airline or travel agencies going bust.

For more information on how to protect yourself when booking a holiday villa or apartment online click here.

Picture: Lucas Fox

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